Why is it when a guacamole craving hits, your avocados are always harder than rocks? Try these no-fail avocado-softening hacks, and you'll be rich in the green stuff and ready to make all kinds of avocado-based meals in no time.
How to Ripen an Avocado in a Paper Bag
Yep, it's possible. Enclose an avocado in a paper bag with an apple or banana. Make sure it’s a tight seal—leave no holes or gaps in the bag. Check ripeness only once daily, then expect ripened avocados in two or three days.
Why a paper bag?
It's science! Avocados produce ethylene gas, which helps them ripen. (Turns out that apples and bananas emit this gas as well.) When a firm avocado is paired with an apple or a banana inside a paper bag, the ethylene becomes more concentrated, therefore yielding perfectly ripe avocados faster. That’s why it’s important to keep the bag sealed and only check on the fruit once a day.
If the situation is Defcon 4?
Obviously, this method is not going to work for the truly impatient person who is in a tizzy for guac on the side for tonight's Taco Tuesday feast. But if you can patiently wait until Friday, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. (Okay, that might be pushing it. But you will be pleased!)
Place an apple or banana in a tightly sealed paper bag with a hard avocado to cut the ripening time almost in half.
Try some flour power.
If you don’t have an apple or banana to throw in with your avos, try filling the bottom of the bag with approximately 2 inches of flour. Place the avocado on top, and tightly seal the bag. In this case, the yeast in the flour works as the ripening agent. Hoping this is a faster means to gauc? Sorry, Charlie, the wait time is still two or three days.
How to Ripen an Avocado with Aluminum Foil
Tightly wrap an avocado with aluminum foil, and place it in a shallow ovenproof dish. Bake at 200°F, checking every 5 to 10 minutes, until the desired softness is achieved. Once it's cool enough to handle, unwrap the avocado and place it in the refrigerator to cool. Let the avocado sit for at least an hour (longer if it's super hard), and then you should be good to go.
Why it works: This method works for the same reason as the bag method above—it's all about the ethylene gas. Wrap the foil close to the fruit for maximum gas exposure.
If the situation is urgent-ish?
Break out the foil method when you need an avocado quickly (but not right this minute). Be aware that the taste and texture of the avocado will be somewhat compromised—basically, don't expect this option to produce the same fresh-tasting avocado as the bag method.
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How to Ripen an Avocado in the Microwave
After halving and removing the avocado's pit, wrap each half with microwave-safe plastic wrap and nuke them for 30-second intervals on medium-high, until desired softness is achieved. Check the softness between each interval. Once they're cool enough to handle, unwrap avocado halves and place them in the refrigerator to cool. In about six minutes (allowing for an extra two or three minutes for very hard avocados), you will be gifted with a softened avocado.
Why it works: For the same reason as the other two—it’s all about the ethylene gas, baby.
If it's an emergency?
This is the bad boy you pull out when you have unexpected guests and no backup plan. As with the oven method, expect to sacrifice even more of the avocado’s naturally buttery taste and silky texture. This method may also cause a bit of a stink (seriously!); the microwave should only be used as a last resort.
Q: How do you know when an avocado is ripe?
A: An avocado will feel slightly soft with a gentle squeeze. If it’s mushy, throw it out. The avocado's skin should be dark, but you're best off using touch to figure out ripeness.
Q: What if I need to use almost ripe/ripe avocados in a couple of days instead of immediately?
A: You can place whole, ripe avocados in the fridge to keep them fresh for another 3 or 4 days.
Q: How do you keep cut avocados from browning?
A: Drizzle citrus juice (lemon and lime are good choices) on the flesh of the fruit to keep it from turning brown. If you are only using half of the fruit and want to store the other half, sprinkle exposed flesh with citrus juice, seal tightly with plastic wrap (exposure to air is what makes it turn brown), and store it the fridge.
Q: Is avocado the best thing ever?
A: YES. Try an avocado half as a “dish” for a scoop of crab or chicken salad. You can use them in smoothies, on salads and sandwiches, and even as a fat replacement in baking recipes. Avocados forever!